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The amylase test measures the amount of digestive enzyme called amylase in the blood. Amylase is produced by the salivary glands and the pancreas and it is needed to break down carbohydrates from food. Elevated amylase levels in the blood may be a sign of inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis) or salivary glands (mumps).
The amylase test is a simple blood test collected via venipuncture. The levels are reported as units per liter (U/L). Typical amylase levels range between 23 and 140 U/L.
Higher than normal amylase levels can result from:
- Acute pancreatitis
- Inflammation or infection in the salivary glands
- Pancreatic pseudocyst or cancer
- Digestive system conditions (such as ulcers, infections, cancer)
- Tubal pregnancy
- Certain drugs, such as morphine.
- Alcohol use
Lower than normal amylase levels can result from:
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Liver failure
- Cystic fibrosis
- Kidney disease
- Pancreatic damage or injury
Am I required to fast for this test?
No, you do not need to fast for this test. However, if you are concurrently having another test done that requires fasting, you need to fast for that test as indicated.
What are normal levels?
Typical amylase levels range between 23 and 140 U/L. The results may also be reported as 0.38 and 2.34 microkat/L.The normal values can vary depending on the laboratory. The exact range will be indicated on your report.
What are abnormal levels?
Abnormal amylase levels may indicate pancreatitis or other digestive system condition. Alcohol and certain drugs, such as asparaginase, birth control pills, aspirin, methyldopa, opiates and thiazide diuretics, can also cause elevated amylase levels.
Why do I need it?
If you suffer from vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal pain or other symptoms of pancreatitis, you may consider taking this test.
What type of doctor should I see if results are abnormal?
See your primary health care provider who may refer you to a specialist, such as a gastroenterologist.